A former Custer and Hot Springs city official was sentenced Thursday to 25 years in prison for sexually touching a 12-year-old girl and taking pornographic photos of her in 2015.
Scott Simianer, 55, described the incidents on Thanksgiving morning as anomalous byproducts of the trauma from his son’s suicide attempts.
“I’m not a child pornographer … I have no sexual interest in children, whatsoever,” he told Circuit Judge Craig Pfeifle at the sentencing hearing in Pennington County. “I still don’t know why these things occurred.”
The judge, however, didn’t believe it.
Pfeifle said the pornographic photos, four of which were submitted as evidence, were “intentionally taken.” In response to Simianer’s earlier statement that he took the pictures because of the victim’s curiosity about his body, Pfeifle said Simianer as the adult should have put a stop to inappropriate behavior.
What concerned him the most, Pfeifle said, was Simianer’s “purposely preying” on someone who had psychological problems.
The victim’s mother testified that the girl has been in and out of various treatment facilities and has a history that includes self-harm, depression and violent behavior toward others.
“He took a girl with many problems and just added to them monumentally,” the woman said in between dabbing at tears.
She asked the judge for a sentence that would keep Simianer in prison till her daughter reached an age at which she knew — and could act on — what was necessary to feel safe.
The prosecutor, Custer County State’s Attorney Tracy Kelley, translated this into a number. She asked for prison time of 55 years, the maximum Simianer was facing.
“I think he deserves that sentence, and I think the victim deserves that sentence,” Kelley said.
Simianer pleaded guilty in June to a count of sexual contact with a child younger than 16, punishable by up to 15 years in prison, as well as four counts of manufacturing child pornography, each count of which carries a sentence of 10 years.
Though Simianer has no previous arrests or convictions, Kelley said he has been involved in a “murder-for-hire scheme” in another state, which is not on his criminal record. She said he “took money to arrange the murder of another human being” and revealed the plan to law enforcement after five months once he was in a difficult spot.
Simianer admitted being involved in the scheme, in the early ’90s, which he said was concocted by his landlord. “I took a little advantage of him if he wanted to throw money my way,” he said.
Simianer asked the court for leniency, saying he wanted a chance to still contribute to society and have his life back. At the time of his arrest in December 2015, he was serving as Custer City’s planning administrator. He had previously been the building inspector for Hot Springs.
His lawyer, Randy Connelly, brought up Simianer’s public service and said people who knew him were “shocked” at the accusations against him.
Simianer was initially charged with three counts of first-degree rape and 20 counts of child porn offenses. Fifteen of the child porn charges were dismissed by the prosecutor last year; the remaining charges were dismissed under his plea agreement.
Connelly questioned the truthfulness of the victim’s statements to authorities, saying the rape allegations had “expanded overnight” from two to five incidents. He described them as “responses to suggestions and pressures by her mother.”
In the end, the judge formulated a sentence based on the mother’s request.
Simianer received the maximum prison time for all his offenses, with the 10 years for each child porn count to be served at the same time, after the 15 years for child sexual contact.
Simianer will become eligible for parole after serving half his sentence, and he will be given credit for about 21 months in jail. The girl would be around 25 years old the soonest he could be let out.